BBC Wales radio audiences rise, figures show

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Media captionBBC Radio Wales editor Steve Austins speaks of the challenges of a changing market and reaching younger listeners

The number of weekly listeners to BBC Radio Wales and BBC Radio Cymru rose in the last three months of 2014.

Figures for October to December last year show BBC Radio Wales had a weekly audience of 427,000.

That is a rise of 29,000 compared to the number who listened between July and September 2014.

BBC Radio Cymru's weekly listeners increased slightly to 106,000, a rise of 1,000 on the record low audience figures in the previous three months.

The latest quarterly figures have been released by the audience research company Rajar.

A spokeswoman for BBC Cymru Wales said: "The latest Rajar figures show an increase in Radio Wales' listeners with Radio Cymru's figures remaining stable.

"As always we'll be looking at the detail carefully and working to strengthen our stations further."

BBC Radio 2 remains the most popular radio station in Wales, while across the UK it recorded an audience of more than 15.2 million weekly listeners.

Image copyright BBC/Rajar
Image caption This shows people who listen to a national regional and local stations for more than five minutes a week. Not including community stations

Commercial radio

There were gains in listeners for some of Wales' most popular commercial radio stations during the last three months of 2014.

Nation Radio, which broadcasts in south Wales on FM and across Wales on digital radio, reached a new record with 176,000 weekly listeners.

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Media captionMartin Mumford, of Town and Country Broadcasting, says radio in Wales is set for the next 20 years

Swansea stations The Wave and Swansea Sound both recorded increases in their audiences compared to the previous three months.

Heart in north Wales saw its weekly audience climb above 100,000 listeners for the first time, though Heart in south Wales saw a fall in its weekly audience in the same period to just under 500,000.

Image copyright Rajar

The growth of digital

More than a quarter of all radio listening is now on DAB radio.

The share of all radio listening on digital platforms is rising and now stands at 37.9%, up from 36.1% for the same period in 2013.

The digital-only station BBC 6 Music had 2.08 million listeners in the last quarter - a record for the service which was threatened with the axe in 2010 when its audience stood at 695,000.

Radio - the future?

"Radio's losing ground with younger audiences and that's a worry for broadcasters," said Jamie Medhurst, senior lecturer in media and communication at Aberystwyth University.

"We're seeing they will find their music on alternative platforms, that's an increasing trend.

"But it's too soon to sound the death knell of radio, it's holding its ground and is a flexible and attractive medium.

"What we're seeing now in Wales is a rise of community radio stations and that gives an opportunity for a more localised service, which is becoming quite popular.

"Digital radio is on the increase and the uptake in Wales is more than any other part of the UK. It's possible that it will eventually displace FM and we're seeing more investment in that area."

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